VIKRAM - ON THE RAZOR'S EDGE
He sure believes in taking the road less travelled. Just a glance at his list of his films will tell you that! From being a voice over artist to National Award winning actor, singer and now UN Habitat Youth Envoy, CHIYAAN VIKRAM has just about done it all. Now with his next film Deiva Thirumaghan where he plays a man with the mind of a five year old, Vikram indulges himself in yet another significant role in his career. With around 30 films in four languages under his belt, and just about every interesting character essayed, Vikram has earned every laurel his way. Just what is it that keeps him going? What inspired him in the past and now excites him to take the next step into the future? RINKU GUPTA takes a peek into his mind and uncovers the man behind the various on-screen masks…
Meeting the man can best be compared to stepping on a livewire. Full of energy, enthusiasm and one who is always raring to go – that's Vikram for you. Watch him step out of his latest acquisition – his Audi R8, and you can't help but spot the similarity between the two. Sleek, stylish and suave, drawing attention to themselves, both car and man make their presence felt in a discreetly compelling way. And the unique exposed engine of the car only makes you wonder if Vikram too doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, with a unique vulnerability that every actor carries around with him exposed like a trademark. It's when he talks about his latest role of the man-child Krishna in Deiva Thirumagan and his preparatory stages to get under the skin of the character, we discover this surprising vulnerability, "I'm always cut off from the world and I get affected by the character. For instance, during Ravanan I was a little volatile and now during Deiva Thirumaghan playing a five year old, you could say I did feel a little vulnerable like the character Krishna, and I still do to some extent. At those times I'm always in a different world. DTM took almost 15 days before I could disassociate from the role. I used to be Krishna even between shots."
Dig further and you find that there is a way out. "I have learnt the art of switching on and switching off over the years. But to be honest, there will be remnants of the character lingering on even after the camera has packed up and I'm back in my room. But I guess that's my style!" says Vikram resignedly.
Throwing light on the preparation for his most recent character Krishna, Vikram reveals, "The homework took some time. And I was genuinely worried. I was essaying a person never attempted in Tamil cinema! It was like walking on a knife's edge! So easy to overdo, and anything less would be deadpan. I just wanted to be Krishna. He's a lovely person. He was very complex to perform. So I did my homework. I knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. But I didn't try him out, instead I just waited to get to the location. It was only once, that I tried him out in the confines of my room and it kind of clicked in my head! I called director Vijay and told him "I think I've nailed him"! But I was very nervous, because I didn't know how Viji or the unit was going to react to me! But the very first scene, first shot, the whole unit was shocked when I performed. And they clapped! That was a big moment!"
Playing Krishna, though no easy task, was a joint venture charted out by both Vijay and Vikram, he reveals. "Strangely, Krishna, unlike any of my other roles, performs in every scene! There's no one scene where I can proudly say, "I did well in that scene." Every scene was demanding. But each time a lot of claps followed. So in a way, it is one of my most gratifying roles. I did a lot of work on this one. But no role, as far as I'm concerned is purely an actor's making or a director's for that matter! Any good director-actor combination has equal inputs from both. I don't think I could have brought Krishna to life without Vijay. He was my inspiration, my captain! He's done a fantastic job with the movie and with Krishna! Every little nuance of Krishna has the Viji touch." Vikram admits, "Krishna is also one of my best characters. And definitely the most meaningful and challenging role I've ever essayed! It affected me a lot spiritually too."
Recently back from a whirlwind tour of Kenya where he met thousands of delegates at the UN Habitat conference, he is full of ideas already, planning his 'Pachai Puratchi' (Green Revolution) that aims to plant one lakh trees in one year. That's amongst other things like trying to eradicate slums, tackling urban water problems and the education of street children. But none of this takes the focus away from his first love – acting. At this stage in his career where he does about one film a year, what gets him excited enough to okay a project and sink his teeth into it? He says thoughtfully, "I'm looking at doing something special every time! I want to create a body of work that's long discussed, even after 100 years! I think if one tries hard enough, that's possible. I want to make iconic and trend-setting films, different and exciting films! I want to try donning characters that no one has ever tried before! I want to push myself to do something close to impossible – roles that challenge my very being." In short, living on the razor's edge seems to be a way of life with this star actor.
Love means - Not letting go!
Your future goals - Challenging and varied roles! Thirsting for more! I want to do every role under the sun!
Roles you didn't get and regretted - I never rue over spilt milk! But yes, Avatar was one such film. Kidding!